MNsure signups grow from October to November
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Nearly 25,000 Minnesotans have signed up for health insurance through MNsure with the start of coverage now less than a month away.
MNsure, the state's health insurance exchange, is releasing its latest enrollment figures on Wednesday. They show enrollment has picked up since it opened Oct. 1, with about 15,000 people signing up in November versus 11,000 in October.
MNsure estimates the 25,000 signups so far translates to a total of about 72,000 people who will be covered. Many signups are for family plans.
Of the nearly 25,000 people signed up so far, about three-quarters are on public insurance plans. The other quarter signed up for private insurance.
Fifty-five percent of private insurance enrollees are women. The median age of private insurance enrollees so far is 50.
ASPIRING TEACHER SLAIN
Charges in 2008 Philly murder of Minnesota teacher
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A convicted killer already serving a life sentence has been charged in the shooting death of an aspiring teacher gunned down for his iPod a month after moving to Philadelphia.
Beau Zabel moved from Austin, Minn., to Philadelphia in May 2008 and was scheduled to start work in Philadelphia public schools. The 23-year-old man was shot dead a month later in a robbery.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Marcellus Jones was charged Wednesday in the murder. He is already serving a life sentence for killing his get-away driver in the Zabel killing.
Authorities said last month that charges were imminent. They said a witness stepped forward to tell police that Jones displayed the iPod and claimed he killed Zabel after realizing it wasn't a more valuable iPhone.
RECORD SNOWBALL FIGHT
Minn. festival team aims for record snowball fight
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A cast of Minnesota beer enthusiasts has a frosty ambition: To stage the largest snowball fight ever.
The group started to nurture the state's craft brewing industry announced the goal Wednesday and hopes to achieve it during the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival on Jan. 25 at the state fairgrounds.
It would mean topping a Guinness World Record set this January in Seattle, when more than 5,800 people engaged in a snowball fight. The Minnesota team wants a minimum of 7,000.
Project manager Joseph Alton says snowmaking machines will be at the ready if the weather doesn't cooperate. But he says State Fair officials plan to stockpile snow between now and then.
To set the record, enough participants need to spend at least one minute hurling snowballs at each other.
Archdiocese braces parish leaders for disclosure
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is bracing parish priests and leaders for its upcoming disclosure of a list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.
In an email sent to priests Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press, the archdiocese says 92 parishes have had at least one priest on the list assigned to them at some point.
Those parishes were notified in an email last week that they would be affected.
The archdiocese plans to disclose its list Thursday. It says most of the allegations that led to priests being on the list relate to reported incidents occurring from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. All were permanently removed from ministry or are deceased.
Snow cancels Advent services to Hanukkah party
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - Three days of accumulating snow in northeastern Minnesota has brought daily activities to a grinding halt.
The snowstorm that won't quit has closed more than schools, universities and businesses. It's canceled the children's Hanukkah party at Temple Israel in Duluth, as well as church Advent services, the lutefisk dinner at First Lutheran and Salvation Army bell ringing.
WDIO-TV says the Duluth Heritage Sports Center is closed Wednesday, as well as the local library, food pantry, Great Lakes Aquarium, YMCA and the Lake Superior Zoo.
National Weather Service observers reported 28 inches of snow in Two Harbors, north of Duluth and 18 inches in the city of Duluth, with additional accumulation expected.
MINNESOTA BUDGET FORECAST
Minn. budget forecast to set '14 session stage
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Forget the return of deep snow and cold temperatures. The big forecast Minnesota's political class is watching this week has to do with the state budget rather than the weather.
Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature learn Thursday whether they'll have a projected surplus or deficit awaiting them when the 2014 session starts. Economic officials are delivering a comprehensive report on the state economy. It will go a long way toward calibrating expectations next year.
Minnesota tax collections have been running ahead of projections since the new fiscal year began in July. But this is the first detailed look that also includes spending trends.
By law, Minnesota's public schools get first crack at any surplus dollars reflected in the forecast because of state IOUs to them.
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